Local Search Marketing
Local search marketing isn’t sexy, but it gets the job done… And if you aren’t aware, or haven’t checked how well your local business is showing up on a search, then it’s costing you big time. Local search marketing is meat and potatoes, PB&J, ham sandwich… just basic business in the digital realm we live in today. Print isn’t dead, if your reading some romance novel on the beach, but print media isn’t going to get your business found by local customers looking for products and services… plain and simple.
“I know – let’s check the Yellow Pages,” said no one ever in the last decade…
It’s all about the internet now: to find businesses, you go online and check local listings for a company that suits you. Google, Bing and Apple maps are where most people are going to search to find a local business. More than likely, your potential customers are doing this on a smartphone or tablet while on the go. Then after they have found the local business they are looking for, they are checking your credentials and online reviews on places like Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, and other review sites. Don’t underestimate how this impacts your business, it’s can be a huge benefit or a real downer…
With the advent of sites like Google+ and Bing for citations, business owners now have the opportunity to reach prospective local customers more easily. Unfortunately for local businesses in places with competition, they also run the risk of being ‘shoved aside’ by more established businesses that search engines mention more often. So you have to have your “A game” on to make sure you are, well, literally everywhere your customers want to be.
What is a local search marketing, really?
Local search marketing is making sure all your location information is correct – everywhere on the web. This involves taking a close look at your local business citations. A citation is, plain and simple, any mention of you on a website that includes your business’ contact info: name, address and phone number, or NAP. These are the basics – there can be more information about your company, but if there’s less, that will probably mean the citation is not as effective.
If you’re living in an area where trade is thriving, the top businesses most likely have more citations and better search engine optimization, and are therefore easier to find. These things tend to be a bit ‘first-seen-first-serves’, in that the top 3 or 5 businesses listed by a search engine will usually get the majority of leads. That’s not fun for those ‘outside the circle’, so to speak. On the bright side – there’s lots of ways you can improve your standing thanks to almighty SEO.
How do I make my local business more known and found?
We’ll run you through some sites where your citation needs to be if you want everything running smoothly. Keep in mind that overlooking some of these listing can make clients-to-be doubt your business by wondering:
“If these guys are really legit, why aren’t they listed HERE?”
- Google: I know, I know – quite the shocker that Google would be the first on this list. If you’re looking to become more known, you’re best off accepting the following right away: you’ll always be dealing with Google. Don’t try to fight it, embrace it! You’ll start off by making a Google+ Local Business page. Then, Google will see about placing you on your local map listing as well as various search results. Your standing here will depend largely on how many citations you have around the web, especially on credible sites.
- Bing: Google’s top competitor, Microsoft’s juggernaut search engine isn’t nearly as popular right now, but is remarkably similar in terms of what it offers. At least, get a Bing Places listing for your business to broaden your impact – you don’t want to risk Bing users overlooking your neat little business.
Specific sites that will host your citations and help your local search marketing:
- Give me a hand, bloggers! Do a simple search on blogs revolving around your area and, optionally, around your particular niche. These blogs all get loads of traffic from locals – after all, you didn’t have a hard time finding them, did you? The more blogs you can have including your citation, the more traffic you will get to your site, in good part consisting of leads. How will you get the bloggers to add your citation? Some will be content to simply do you a solid as they help list various local businesses for easier reference. Others might be harder to convince and might need to be swayed with a couple of plane tickets for the Bahamas… Whatever they want before including you, consider giving it to them – it will help you out a ton. Also, provided that the blog is popular enough, you might want to consider asking them to add your citation to their site even if they’re not locals – this is referred to as an industry-specific blog.
- Business-specific or general citations sites: Some sites, like Hotfrog, list all sorts of businesses. Others are more specific: for example, Yelp lists things like entertainment-centric establishments and nightlife locations, Foursquare does something similar but focuses more on “Where do we go shopping?” spots, TripAdvisor lists the best tourist locations and traps to avoid… You’ll want your business to be listed on every site that even remotely covers its category – the more, the better. However, keep in mind that once you’re listed on sites like these, users will tend to leave reviews detailing every aspect of their experience with you, so make sure your business is ready to go before inviting critics over!
There’s other types of sites that can hold your citations, both local and international ones. Be creative when trying to figure them out – depending on the industry you are in, every citation has potential to bring you a few new clients.
Managing your local search marketing– dealing with citations that aren’t doing you any good
It’s entirely possible – perhaps even likely – that your business info is already featured on several sites without you even being aware of it. These will most often be local sites that try to assemble all the businesses of a particular kind for easy reference. Local search marketing check…
Good, huh? Not necessarily. If your business has been around for a while, those citations might be outdated – they might even be plain wrong due to a mistake with good intentions. This can actually be damaging in more than one way: not only will your potential clients go elsewhere thinking you are out of business, they might even spread word that you closed up shop!
Let’s get to fixing this quickly. Perform a bunch of special Google searches with your exact name, your exact number, your exact address and so forth (all separate!) Then, see if any of the sites listing you have any of the info wrong. Sometimes, it will be a 2/3 correct type of affair, but that’s not good enough – your future clients might need the exact information that is missing and if Google, Bing and Apple maps are seeing the inconsistent data, your search rankings can suffer. So, we need to get to fixing each and every one of these sites with your correct info – after a fairly straightforward procedure of proving you are the business owner, your info will be up to date and you’ll enjoy having some extra citations to your name.